Thursday, January 12, 2012


A couple weeks ago it got cold. Single digits for a long time. Then, it started snowing. Usually, in Alaska, snow means warmer. This winter, it did not. We got several feet of fluffy, quicksand-like snow that moved around with the slightest breeze. Every time you shoveled, it undid your work, almost as you were doing it. Then came the wind. One night a few days ago, it blew. I could feel the house shake. In the morning, the already impressive drifts were incredible, sculptures, really. Knife-edged cornices, scoured spots where snow had been the day before and drifts well over my head in two places just on the way to my house. The snow was dense, too - and walking to my neighbor's house just a few hundred feet away, took serious effort. Ice jams on the roof backed up, causing minor floods near my stove that produced an amazing explosion-like sound when they splashed on the hot stove. Winter - the extreme version.

Yesterday I went out and shoveled for two hours. It was slow going, the snow, and just as I finished, it started coming down again. Now, it's nearly a white-out, piling up fast, creating stratus lines of fluff against the sliding glass door in the living room. More shoveling coming my way if I want to go get my Full Circle box.

The kids are now in Hawaii - they left Saturday night and won't be back for three weeks. Craig is also gone, as of yesterday, for two months. It's an interesting feeling - all this snow, quiet, calm, inspiring me to be home more. I'm sure at some point I'll start to need some sort of outside conversation, but at the moment it feels good to be alone, quiet, thinking.

This winter has seen the opening of another chapter in my life, one of introspection and a revisiting of the valuable things in life on an emotional level. I've never searched for a meaning to life beyond the general enjoyment of my family, friends, environment, etc. But more recently, a focus on deliberately considering what I pay attention to and indulge in on an emotional level has changed things in a big way. It's a shift. It's almost impossible for me to explain it to anyone yet. I wish I could. It's a feeling of inner peace. Of finally being comfortable, accepting, letting go of a lot of things, stories. Seeing people for who and where they are, with compassion. It has opened things up for me, made me embrace vulnerability and joy in a whole new way. It led me to Craig Matthews, my neighbor for 12 years, who I barely knew until recently, with whom there is a beautiful harmony. It led me to the writings of Richard Moss, whose very voice instills calm, and whose words give the world I live in a different shape.

Life is extraordinary in this way. Things come to you when you are ready for them. And when I needed time and space to be quiet, I got it. This morning, I read, practiced yoga, sat on the mat for a while and practiced quieting my mind. I love this about life - there is always something new to learn that adds another layer of depth to what is already an abundantly joyous life. Today, my great accomplishment is making an incredible lentil soup. What a joy!

And the snow falls and falls.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

4 years

Yesterday, at about 11 a.m., I met Théa.. 4 years ago. Her birth, much like her life, was both fascinatingly powerful and surprisingly challenging. But the rewards of meeting that challenge are huge. Every day, she makes me laugh, sometimes snort with shock with her antics, sometimes laugh in glee at her wit. I am so grateful for the experience of being her mother and in awe at the amazing person she is. Look out, world.
As per the typical style, no one celebrates just one birthday any more. It's a collage of days, and with Théa, those days come right smack at the tail end of everyone else's holiday. Excellent. This year, at least, I was able to get a bit of a plan going early, thinking about what to reserve for birthday and what to give at Christmas. But still, it snuck up on me. Sigh. Nonetheless, the birthday party, complete with a rainbow-colored cake with stars on it (OK, wasn't exactly purple on the inside, but that's hard to do, really) - and fairy wings, constructed by her father, Mike and Craig, and lots of glitter glue, and lots of friends to celebrate with. Good times. Her real birthday was good, too. Matt got to spend the morning with her and then I took her out to dinner with Mike and Ella later. Capping the night off was a movie at Craig's, a new book - "Listen to the Wind" and the world's best popcorn. Today, she slept in till 10 a.m. That's going to be a bit rough when we have to get up at 6:20 tomorrow (probably me who's going to be roughest) but we'll manage.
Shortly thereafter - Sunday morning - the kids go to Hawaii for three weeks. I'm partly sad to miss their snuggles and hugs and general banter, but I'm looking forward to the solitude on other levels. I've been trying to work through some things on a philosophical level, and they require long periods of time and introspection - not stuff you find very often when you have children on hand. I'm also interested in minimizing the stuff in my life again - things have taken over and I want to get control on the chaos. I find it detracts from my life. I've also got work projects - a new paper to put out - and the high tunnel to focus on. And possibly a trip to Kodiak to see my friend Judy's new digs, I've never been on the ferry and it sounds awesome. And last of all, hopefully, a trip up north, probably to Barrow this time. So I think that aught to do it. That and lots of skyping and facetime.
But for now, I'm reveling in the joy of time with the kids, new friends who are wonderful additions to my life, and chances to reconnect with everyone, and the joy of knowing that the holidays are finally over again. Hurray!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The new year

It is 2012 - a whole new year. I remember looking at my children when they were born and thinking that they were absolutely unscathed - nothing bad had happened to them yet, and it was essentially my job to keep it that way. A new year is sort of like that. Hopes, dreams, intentions - all placed on this infant year.
I've been reading a lot about hopes and the fact that they are a distraction from the here and now, a distraction from being present in your life right now, this life that is happening as I lay on my couch, body happily tired from dancing and visiting with friends and swinging my children round and round. If that's true, and I suspect it might be, it's going to be a long road to cure myself of the hopes addiction. I have always been a forward looking person - someone who believed that the future held infinite possibilities. Imagining those possibilities was a favorite pastime. So I hope I can get a grasp on that this year - less focusing ahead and more right on this spot.
I have a good feeling about this year. My children have a glow about them most of the time that is palpable - they are loved and it shows. I find them both so extraordinary - such amazing creatures that I could never have imagined that I had much of anything to do with their existence. I believe the things that I care about are good things and the things that I pay little attention to deserve little attention. There is joy in life, rich joy, and I think that is a good thing. Simple things - a lovely meal, good company, a loving hug - are so valuable to me. I'm so grateful for the amazing people in my life who love me, and those who challenge me and make me stretch.
So really, what I want from this year, what I would choose were it up to me, is more of the same. There is little that I want for in this life. I'm very lucky, blessed, grateful.